Five months after the opener in Phillip Island, the FIM Superbike World Championship is making its long-awaited return to racing this weekend, as the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team, GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team, and the Ten Kate Yamaha WorldSBK Supported Team look forward to continuing their strong starts to the 2020 campaign at the Spanish venue of Circuito de Jerez.
For Pata Yamaha, they will hope for a repeat of their success in Phillip Island, where Toprak Razgatlıoğlu rode to a superb victory in the opening race of the season on his debut with the Yamaha R1. The Turkish star would make the podium again in the Tissot Superpole race but was forced to retire from Race 2 with a technical issue while battling among the front-runners. He has been on the podium before in Jerez, finishing third in the second race last year, and showed good potential in the Barcelona test.
On the other side of the garage, Michael van der Mark had an equally impressive showing in the Australian opener. The Dutch rider just missed out on a podium finish across the three races, but was never more than a second away from the rostrum, and his consistency puts him just three points off his teammate in the riders’ standings. The 2014 Supersport World Champion tasted victory at Jerez last year with the Pata Yamaha squad and will certainly be one of the favourites heading into the weekend.
In the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team camp, Federico Caricasulo is another who’s been successful at the Spanish venue. The Italian has twice stood on top of the WorldSSP rostrum at Jerez, winning there in both 2017 and 2019, and will now benefit from experience gained during his maiden WorldSBK outing in Phillip Island.
Teammate and former MotoAmerica Superbike Championship star Garrett Gerloff has only ridden the 4.428 km circuit during pre-season testing, but showed at the Phillip Island circuit on his debut in March that he’s quick to adapt and the Texan is looking to be back inside the points for round two.
Loris Baz of Ten Kate Yamaha is no stranger to racing at the Circuito de Jerez, and took the WorldSBK pole position here in 2014. It’s also where he made his return to the championship with Yamaha last year, and the French rider will look to build on a strong and consistent 2020 opener, as well as a promising Barcelona test.
Friday kicks off WorldSBK’s return to action, with Free Practice 1 and 2 at 11:30 and 15:00 (local time) respectively. Following a final Free Practice on Saturday at 09:00, the Superpole at 11:00 will decide the grids for the first race after 154 days at 14:00. The Tissot Superpole Race will begin at 11:00 on Sunday, before race two concludes the Jerez round at 14:00.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu: Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team
“I am very happy to be back, it’s going to be a hot one for all riders but now we are ready for the race. I’m feeling a little more pressure because this is World Superbikes and now I have more expectations from my win in Phillip Island. The hot conditions are going to make things tough so we will need a good set-up in order to conserve the tyres. This race is very important for me as I need some good points for the championship. For the first three laps it will be fine, but after that is where you start feeling the effects of the heat and when the bike starts to slide, so tyre conservation will be critical.”
Michael van der Mark: Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team
“I’m so happy that we can finally go back racing after such a long period without it. We were testing a couple of weeks ago in Barcelona, but now it’s finally time to get going again properly. I feel more than ready, it’s going to be different than what we’re used to, but it’s the same for everybody. I have such a great feeling with the bike and we still remember the Phillip Island races. In Jerez we can be really competitive and we have goals to fight for the podium and the victory. I’m looking forward to this weekend, it’ll be hard and tough, but I’m ready and so is the team.”
Federico Caricasulo: GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team
“I’m very excited to start again after five months. I worked a lot at home during this period, riding some of my own bikes and training as much as possible. At the last test the feeling was pretty good, and we made a positive step. I’m definitely ready to start again at Jerez and then do it all again straightaway at Portimão.”
Garrett Gerloff: GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team
“It’s definitely been a long four to five months off and I’ve been trying to use that time productively. I spent a lot of time working on myself, on the mental side alongside the usual physical training. I feel like I’m in a good place and I’m positive going into the first race back, which really feels like the opening round again. I’m just looking forward to getting back into a normal rhythm and hitting the track to learn as much as possible and get the best results I can. Finally we’re back at it and I can’t wait to get started in Jerez.”
Loris Baz: Ten Kate Yamaha WorldSBK Supported Team
“Really happy to be back, like everyone is I imagine. It’s been way too long to be back racing, it feels like it was last year. It’s going to be fun, I’m ready for the heat of Jerez. We’ve been working well during this period, so we will see where we are. I was happy with the speed in Barcelona testing, but we still have to find a few tenths and be more consistent on the tyres. I think that will be the main job in Jerez – to find a good set-up that allows us to go fast for as many laps as possible. I’ve been watching the MotoGP a lot and consistency is key. It will be interesting and I’m so happy to be back with my second family at Yamaha and Ten Kate Yamaha, and to be getting back on the bike.”